Friday, 27 September 2019

Murder Month 2019 - The Shape of Night

  • Title And Author: The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen
  • Publisher: Transworld
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: eBook
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: eBook gifted by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review/reaction
  • Length: 288 Pages
  • Buy From: Book Depository - Foyles - Waterstones - Audible
Have you guys ever watched Grey’s Anatomy? If I said to you “ghost sex”, you’ll know what episode and storyline I’m talking about, right? Ok, keep that in mind while I do this write-up. 

It’s been quite a long time since I read a Tess Gerritsen. I tried to read Playing With Fire when that first came out, but couldn’t get past the first few pages. I never warmed to it the way I warmed to Tess’s Rizzoli and Isles series (I plan to reread one or two of them in the coming few months so keep your eyes peeled for those). So, when I saw The Shape of Night on NetGalley for review, I jumped at it, making sure I didn’t read anything about it. I wanted to go in as blind as I could. 

Ava arrives at Brodie’s Watch, she thinks she’s found the perfect place to find writing her cookbook. And the perfect place to hide from her past - something awful happened. Something she’s desperate to forget. 

But the old house that Ava plans to stay in till October welcomes and repels her and soon, Ava can’t scare the feeling that she isn’t alone… But is she? Is she in danger? If so, is the danger outside the house, inside the walls, or inside her own guilt-ridden head?

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Hey Sherlock! Extract

I have a murdery extract for you guys! I know, an extract from a crime/mystery novel within Murder Month? Shocking! But am kinda excited and intrigued on this one and want to know your thoughts on this series. Plus, when Vicki from David Fickling Books emailed me about this, I had just started watching Elementary so it's a sign!!!

Hey Sherlock! by Simon Mason is the third in the award winning Gavin Smith series (the first, Running Girl, was shortlisted for Costa Children's Prize Award 2014 and the second, Kid Got Shot, won the CrimeFest Best Crime Novel for Young Adult 2017), and Gavin is lazy, school dropout but utterly brilliant and beyond smart.

Amy Roecastle has gone missing. She's beautiful and utterly selfish. But why would she go missing? And why would her best friend lie to the Police? Inspector Singh has no leads, no clue, no idea. Cue Gavin who might be one step of the investigation, but who might be getting in over his head as nothing is ever simple when it comes to Amy Roecastle...

Not sure if I am going to have time to read this within the month (I know - this was perfect for this month or the coming autumn/winter months as there's something about autumn that makes perfect thriller reading), but I wanted to share this extract with you all!

Before I go, I want to thank Vicki for emailing me after I chatted to her about my themed Murder Month and going "I think this would be perfect for you!". If you are curious on the series or you like what's below, you can check out David Fickling Books's website or Book Depository.

NOW, ONTO THE EXTRACT (sorry about the formatting of extract in advance. For some reason, my laptop wasn't happy the day I was writing this p!!!

Monday, 23 September 2019

#re3 Murder Month 2019 - Murder On The Orient Express

  • Title And Author: Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: Physical
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Bought
  • Length: 240 Pages
  • Buy From: Book Depository - Foyles - Waterstones - Audible

I am going to say this now but this reread wasn’t planned to happened. After I finished reading Howl’s Moving Castle (link here to read my write-up) where I struggled to finished, I wanted something light to read. Something fast. Something I could finish within a week. My brain decided that, even though I was thinking of reading this for Murder Month, I wanted to reread Murder on the Orient Express. So, I read this back in August and decided to pop my write-up of this now… 

I think we all know the basic premise of Murder on the Orient Express, but to refresh your memory, this is the tenth outing for Hercule Poirot and he is returning to Paris after a telegram comes to him, begging him to return to London. While on the Orient Express, his is approached by an American, Samuel Ratchett, who wants to hire Poirot as his personal detective. Poirot refuses, not liking the man. But the following morning, Poirot discovers that Ratchett is dead, stabbed 12 times while he slept and that Orient Express is at a standstill due to a vicious snowstorm, meaning the murderer is still on the train…

Sunday, 22 September 2019

BBC Young Writers' Award 2019 Shortlist Press Release!!!


POETRY AND A SEARCH FOR EMOTIONAL CONNECTIONS INSPIRE 
2019 BBC YOUNG WRITERS’ AWARD SHORTLIST 
#BBCYWA #shortstories @BBCR1

The need for understanding, emotional connection and reconciliation feature in a ‘confident’, ‘irreverent’ and ‘experimental’ shortlist for the 2019 BBC Young Writers’ Award 
with First Story and Cambridge University announced live on BBC Radio 1’s Life Hacks today (Sunday 22 September). 

For the first time, a love of poetry and a desire to experiment with the short story form has been mentioned by each of the shortlisted writers, with 2018 Foyle Young Poet Georgie Woodhead featuring on the shortlist. The five stories many deeply personal range from the comic, to the lyrical, to the tragic, and are written by an all-female shortlist of young writers aged 16 and 17 years from across the UK. 

Showing a fearless confidence in form and tone, the stories explore divorce, coming of age, mental illness, loneliness and the meaning of life, and range from the meditative to flash-fiction. Whether it be the brutally evocative story of kinship found in hospital as a teenager battles anorexia; the implosion of a young girl’s family life told through the change of seasons on her father’s allotment; the tragi-comic story of a freak accident on a nightclub roof; a search for the meaning of home via a journey from island to city; or the funny and tender story of an introvert archivist and his connection to an exhibit each finalist has shown a fresh, sophisticated and unique approach to their subject. 

Katie Thistleton, BBC Radio 1 presenter and Chair of Judges, BBC YWA 2019 says: 
I am particularly excited about the shortlist this year because we had such a diverse range of stories submitted and the final five really reflect that no two have a similar style or topic. For that reason, there’s something for everyone and I think it will also encourage people listening or reading to want to write themselves, and perhaps enter next year!

The shortlisted stories and writers are:
  • Insula’ by Eleanor Clark, 16, from mid-Devon. This ‘rite of passage’ is told via a young woman’s journey from the safe community and almost magical island of her childhood to the brutal, isolation of the city. Evocative and sophisticated with a strong sense of place, the story laments the inevitability of growing up and champions the importance of rural communities. 
  • Another Pair of Eyes’ by Tallulah Howarth, 17, from Macclesfield. Inspired by the true story of John Dalton, a Northern scientist known for his study into colour blindness who asked for his eyes to be preserved after his death, this is the strange and touching tale of a lonely archivist who becomes emotionally attached to ‘Dalton’s eyes’. Tender and funny, this unique piece of flash-fiction is short, yet beautifully realised. 
  • The Blue of Spring Violets’ by Isobel Paxton, 17, from Edinburgh. Set in a psychiatric ward, this brutal, rich and sensory story explores the kinship of the patients as they find kindness, connection and humanity in their pain. 
  • Allotment’ by Rowan Taylor, 16, from Reading. The story of a daughter’s changing relationship with her father after her parent’s marriage break-up, this beautifully told story shows the shift from desolation through sadness to new love as the seasons pass and new life, and hope, awakens on the father’s allotment.  
  • Jelly-headed’ by Georgie Woodhead, 16, from Sheffield. ‘Jelly-headed’ is a comic, quirky and ultimately tragic story of two friends, a night out and a lightning strike that brings devastation. A story about guilt and the absurdity of life, this funny, subversive story is ultimately about searching for meaning or connection.

The five shortlisted stories, each under 1000 words, are available to read on the BBC Radio 1 website, and can be heard on BBC Sounds as part of the Short Works short story podcast.

Katie Thistleton is joined on this year’s judging panel by former teacher and Betty Trask Award winner, Anthony Cartwright; Waterstones Prize and YA Bookseller Prize-winning writer, Patrice Lawrence; winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and British Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year children’s author, Kiran Millwood Hargrave; and writer, rapper and world-record breaking human beatboxer, Testament. 

Kiran Millwood Hargrave, judge and author, says:
“This was one of the most stimulating and collaborative experiences of judging I've ever had and we've emerged with a shortlist to be proud of. The writers demonstrate all the skills I look for in any piece of writing, from immediacy of voice to sensitive pacing, and most of all an emotional connection made with the reader. I think the way a story is told is just as important as the story itself, and these writers have each paid attention to language as well as plot.” 

The shortlisted writers will have their stories read by an actor and broadcast by BBC Radio 1, and available to listen to on BBC Sounds as part of the Short Works short story podcast.  The stories will also be published in an anthology and the writers will attend a creative writing workshop with author and judge Patrice Lawrence, in addition to a session in a recording studio and a tour of Broadcasting House with BBC producers. All five teenagers will attend the exclusive BBC Short Story Awards ceremony with their families on Tuesday 1 October 2019, when the winner will be announced live on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row. There, they will have the chance to meet high-profile authors, publishers, agents and broadcasters at the award ceremony. The winner will also receive a personalised mentoring session with an author to enhance their writing skills.

Antonia Byatt, Executive Director, First Story, says:
Each of these short stories unveils a new distinctive voice, unafraid to take risks with language or to tackle difficult subjects. First Story works to give new young writers from deprived communities across England the chance to write and we are always excited by the incredible standard of work that they produce. These five shortlisted writers are brilliant torchbearers for so much of the young talent waiting to be discovered today.  At First Story we believe that there is dignity and power in young people’s stories and here is real proof of that.”

Dr Sarah Dillon, Faculty of English, Cambridge University, says:
In a modern world in which the pace of life so often outstrips our ability to process it, these wonderful stories all show how words can create a bubble of calm in which to feel, remember, laugh and cry. Our shortlistees represent a new generation of writers whose concerns and use of form both link them to the past and yet depart from it. The University of Cambridge is delighted to celebrate these young women shortlisted for the BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University, who will shape the future of writing just as Cambridge alumni such as Zadie Smith and Helen Oyeyemi have done before them.”

ABOUT THE SHORTLISTED WRITERS:

Eleanor Clark is 16 years old and lives in mid-Devon. She spends much of her time reading, to teach herself all she can about the world of books and writers, and her rural location allows her to spend a lot of time rambling around the countryside, which is one of her main inspirations. Ever since she was a small child, Eleanor has been spending her pocket money on exercise books and filling them with stories. She now has dozens of them in boxes filling her bedroom, and they continue to build up. From a very early age, much of Eleanor’s search for adventure by reading and writing can be attributed to favourite children’s writers such as Noel Streatfield, the late great Judith Kerr and Eva Ibbotson. As she has got older, and explored how stories capture a sense of place and self, she has been inspired by Virginia Woolf, Winifred Holtby and Rumer Godden.

Tallulah Howarth is 17 years old and lives in Macclesfield. This is the first short story Tallulah has written that isn’t part of the school curriculum, and she has been writing poetry for about five years. She sometimes works to prompts, but most commonly one-liners come to her out of nowhere and she’ll add them to a bank of text she has written, before trying to piece a poem together.  Tallulah was poet laureate for her High School and she is part of the Manchester based poetry collective Young Identity. Tallulah is currently reading David Wojnarowicz’s memoir Close to the Knives. Other books she has enjoyed include The Last Policeman by Ben Winters, and the Skippy Dies series by Paul Murray. Outside of writing, Tallulah is involved in political activism, believing strongly in justice for all humans, animals and the climate.

Isobel Paxton is 17 years old and lives in Edinburgh. Isobel has always enjoyed writing but the BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University is the first writing competition she has entered. Outside of writing, Isobel loves to take part in aerial sports, such as trampolining and diving. The work of Markus Zusak, and texts inspired by ancient mythology (with a twist), such as Tomi Adeyemi novels, inspire Isobel to write. 

Rowan Taylor is 16 years old and lives in Reading. Rowan loves to write as it helps her to relax and it makes her very happy. She has written many short stories and poems. Since the age of seven, Rowan has dreamed of publishing a book of her own. Away from writing, she has very hands-on hobbies such as painting, crafting and modelling. Fantasy books are Rowan’s favourite genre as she finds the imagination required to create new worlds fascinating. One of Rowan’s favourite authors is Lemony Snicket, due to his unique way of writing that reads like a person’s thoughts.

Georgie Woodhead is 16 years old and lives in Sheffield. She is an avid writer and greatly enjoys the creative process. Georgie is also a skilled poet and won the esteemed Foyle Young Poet Award, was highly commended in the Cuckoo Northern Writers Award, and was the runner-up in the young people’s category of the Ledbury Poetry Competition, all in 2018. Georgie likes to read novels and short stories, mainly contemporary fiction, from writers such as Etgar Keret, Kafka, J.D Salinger, and Arundhati Roy. In the future, Georgie hopes to continue to develop her writing work, and to travel.

The shortlisted stories can be read and listened to online at: www.bbc.co.uk/ywa 

NOTES TO EDITORS

KEY DATES:
  • From 6pm Sunday 22 September: The five shortlisted stories are available to read and listen to on the Radio 1 website. They are also available on BBC Sounds as part of the Short Works short story podcast. 
  • Tuesday 1 October: The announcement of the winners of both the 2019 BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University and the BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University will be broadcast live from the award ceremony at Broadcasting House on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row from 7.15pm. 
  • Tuesday 6 October: An interview with the winning writer will feature in the BBC Radio 1’s Life Hacks show 4-6pm. 

ABOUT THE AWARD AND PARTNERS:

  • This is the fifth year of the BBC Young Writers’ Award which invites all 14 – 18-year-olds living in the United Kingdom to submit short stories of up to 1,000 words. The Award was launched as part of the tenth anniversary celebrations for the BBC National Short Story Award and aims to inspire and encourage the next generation of writers. Previous winners are Brennig Davies (2015), Lizzie Freestone (2016), Elizabeth Ryder (2017) and Davina Bacon (2018). 
  • BBC Radio 1 is the UK’s No.1 youth station, targeting 15 to 29 year-olds with a distinctive mix of new music and programmes focusing on issues affecting young people. The station is the soundtrack to young people's lives in the UK and has been for over 50 years. 
  • Radio 1 has a weekly audience of 10.56 million (including all listeners aged 10+) and is the most watched radio station in the world. Radio 1’s YouTube and Vevo channel has over 8 million subscribers and receives an average of 2.2 million views a day. Radio 1’s iPlayer channel has received over 56 million total views.
  • One of the station’s key purposes is to support new British music and emerging artists. It champions a breadth of live music through platforms like Radio 1’s Big Weekend, Radio 1’s Teen Awards, Radio 1 in Ibiza, BBC Music Sound of 2019, and Live Lounge Month, as well as various sessions from the Live Lounge and Maida Vale studios. 
  • Radio 1 is a force for good and the leading voice for young people in the UK, tackling relevant issues through our documentaries, podcasts, Radio 1’s Life Hacks, and Newsbeat, as well as our mental health campaigns like My Mind and Me - a year-long campaign launched in December 2016 to get young people talking about mental health and to raise awareness and understanding of mental health issues. Other key social action and education campaigns include #1MillionHours - a year-long volunteering campaign launched in December 2015 that saw Radio 1 and 1Xtra motivate their young listeners to pledge 1 million hours of time to good causes over 12 months.
  • BBC Radio 1 is a truly multiplatform station, enabling young audiences to connect to the network and to listen, watch and share great content both at home and whilst on the move - via BBC Sounds; FM and DAB Radio; Radio 1’s YouTube channel; Radio 1’s BBC iPlayer channel; online (www.bbc.co.uk/radio1); Freeview and other digital television platforms; and via mobile.
  • BBC Radio 4 is the world’s biggest single commissioner of short stories, attracting audiences of over a million listeners to listen to short fiction.  Contemporary stories are broadcast every week, the majority of which are specially commissioned throughout the year. www.bbc.co.uk/radio4  
  • BBC Year of Books – BBC ArtsThe awards coincide with a year-long celebration (autumn 2019 – Autumn 2020) of literature through BBC Arts, with new programming across BBC TV, radio and online, as well as a festival in partnership with libraries and reading groups around the UK. From classics to contemporary fiction, celebrated authors to the less well-known and new adaptations, this new content will sit alongside feature specials of many of the BBC’s regular books programmes including; The Radio 2 Book Club with Jo Whiley, The Verb on Radio 3, World Book Club on the World Service, Book Club and Open Book, both on Radio 4. Plus, there will be further literature content announcements made in the coming months. At the centre of the celebration of literature is the landmark BBC Two three-part series The Novels That Shaped Our World this autumn with an accompanying festival of programming. The series coincides with what is widely acknowledged to be the birth of the popular English language novel 300 years ago with Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.
  • The mission of the University of Cambridge is to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence. To date, 107 affiliates of the University have won the Nobel Prize. Founded in 1209, the University comprises 31 autonomous Colleges, which admit undergraduates and provide small-group tuition, and 150 departments, faculties and institutions. The University sits at the heart of one of the world's largest technology clusters. The 'Cambridge Phenomenon' has created 1,500 hi-tech companies, 14 of them valued at over US$1 billion and two at over US$10 billion. Cambridge promotes the interface between academia and business and has a global reputation for innovation. The BBC National Short Story Award is being supported by the School of Arts and Humanities, Faculty of English, University Library and the new University of Cambridge Centre for Creative Writing which is part of the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education, which provides part-time and short courses to members of the public. www.cam.ac.uk 
  • First Story believes there is dignity and power in being able to tell your own story, and that writing can transform lives. We’re working towards a society that encourages and supports all young people to write creatively for pleasure and agency. We’re committed to bringing opportunities for creativity to students who may not otherwise have the chance. Our flagship programme places professional writers into secondary schools serving low-income communities, where they work intensively with students and teachers to foster confidence, creativity and writing ability. Through our core programme and extended activities, we expand young people’s horizons and raise aspirations. Participants gain vital skills that underpin academic attainment and support achieving potential. Find out more and get involved at www.firststory.org.uk

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Murder Month 2019 - The First Lady

  • Title And Author: The First Lady by James Patterson and Brendan DuBois
  • Publisher: Century
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: Audiobook
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Borrowed via Local Library & BorrowBox
  • Length: 368 Pages or & Hours 15 Minutes
  • Buy From: Book Depository - Foyles - Waterstones - Audible 

Do you have one of those authors? You know the authors I mean. The ones where you know you shouldn’t read as you and they don’t get on, but every now and then, your resolve weakens and you go “One last time. I will try that author one more time”?

This is my relationship with James Patterson. I find his audiobooks fun, fast and great beach reads, but I find them quite predictable. I know the beats of each of the novels I listen to or read and, though I do have fun listening to the audiobook (I went through a small blitz when I was in my teens with his novels and I find, because of that, I can’t really physical read them any more) and I have a soft spot for the Women’s Murder Club, I always feel a little let down by the stories. 

So, when I first started to think about doing Murder Month, I thought I would give one or two authors a second chance. The first was Patrica Cornwall’s Kay Scarpetta and I found, after nearly two or so hours of audiobooking All That Remains, I frankly didn’t care and I DNFed it. But the second was James Patterson. Now, originally, I decided to do The President Is Missing as that had a lot of hype and noise when it was coming out. But I changed my mind. I’m not sure why, but I decided to try The First Lady instead. 

It’s four weeks before the next Presidential Elections and the President is riding high in the polls. So when he is ambushed walking out of an Atlanta hotel with his mistress, President Tucker is desperate to get the scandal under control, and the first step is the get the First Lady by his side…

Expect, she’s not in the White House. She walked out of the East Wing after the scandal broke to ride her horse outside the capital and, within moments, she loses her security detail lose her. 

The First Lady is missing. Did she run away? Is she dead? Either way, she must be found and, all the while, things are happening behind the scenes… things that will protect the President at all costs.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Murder Month 2019 - The Five

  • Title And Author: The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold
  • Publisher: Doubleday
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: Audiobook
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Borrowed by BorrowBox & Essex Libraries
  • Length: 432 Pages or 10 Hours 18 Minutes
  • Buy From: Book Depository - Foyles - Waterstones - Audible

Since I first heard of this book earlier in the year, I wanted to read it. I am not a fan of True Crime and not really had much interest over Jack the Ripper (though I have said I would be curious to go on a Jack the Ripper Walk round East London), so the idea of me wanting to read this came very left field. I mean… why? Why would I want to read about Jack the Ripper and his murders? 

But wanting to read this surprised me and when I decided to close my Audible subscription and use my local library and their audiobook app, I went to see this was on here. And it was, much to mu surprise, and I knew, without really thinking it through that I wanted this to be part of my Murder Month. No, not wanted. This HAD to be in my Murder Month. 

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper looks at the five women at the heart of this terror, and, with this, looks at the social pitfalls and peril of being a middle-class women (or just a women in general) in Victorian London. 

I don’t want to go any further here as I want to go further a little later in this write-up.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Murder Month 2019 - Nothing Stays Buried

  • Title And Author: Nothing Stays Buried by P.J. Tracy
  • Publisher: Penguin
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: Audiobook 
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Borrowed from local library via BorrowBow
  • Length: 320 Pages or 7 Hours 22 minutes
  • Buy From: Book Depository - Foyles - Waterstones - Audible

I wanted to include The Guilty Dead by P.J. Tracy in my Murder Month, but decided against it for reasons I explained back in July. But I had such a fun time audiobooking it, I decided I wanted another P.J. Tracy audiobook so when back in June/July (yes, I decided to prep for this month and get my stuff together and organise) via my local library audiobook app, I jumped at it. I do like a good audiobook and podcast, as you know! 

This is the 8th book in the Monkeewrench or Twin Cities series (depending on which you prefer - plus, The Guilty Dead was the ninth so am backtracking) and it starts with a body of a woman beginning discovered in a dog park. When detectives Gino and Magozzi get to the scene, they soon realise that this is the work of a serial killer. And he’s stuck before as he left a playing card, like with his last victim over a year ago. Expect that card was the ace of spades and this victim’s card is the four of spades…

As Gino and Magozzi desperately try and stop the killer from completing the whole deck,  they cal on the computer skills of Grace MacBride and the Monkeewrench team for help. But they, too, are investigating a case: a disappearance of a young woman in farm country…

But are the two cases linked to each other?

Friday, 13 September 2019

The Devil Upstairs


Blog tour time! I know, what is going on this Murder Month?!

And this is linked to The Devil Upstairs by Anthony O'Neill. I read his previous novel, Dr Jekyll and Mr Seek (a "sequel" or sorts to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde) a few years ago and thorough enjoyed myself. So when I was asked if I wanted to be involved in this blog tour, I jumped at it. But, this sounds a little creepy...

The Devil Upstairs follows Cat Thomas, who moves from Florida to Edinburgh into her dream house. Everything is perfect. Expect the neighbour upstairs. He is loud, rude and respects nothing. In sheer desperation, Cat appeals to the Devil to do something, anything.

Then upstairs goes deafly quiet. Has Cat's nightmare ended, or just begun...?

I am so excited to be involved in this tour and I have something to share. Anthony O'Neill found time to write a small guest post for the tour about the novel's title! How very intriguing!

Before I hand you over to Anthony, I just want to thank him for finding time to write this and to Jaz at Black and White Publishing for asking if I wanted to be involved in the tour! If you fancy checking out his website - anthonyoneill.net - you are always welcome. And if you are curious over The Devil Upstairs, you can read more about it on Black and White Publishing website or via Book Depository. Now, over to Anthony!

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Murder Month 2019 - The October Man

  • Title And Author: The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch
  • Publisher: Gollancz
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: Audiobook
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Bought
  • Length: 192 Pages or 4 Hours 20 Minutes
  • Buy From: Book Depository - Foyles - Waterstones - Audible

I am in two minds over whether or not to write this as part of my Murder Month. I decided, probably against my better judgement, that I will on the condition that I attempt to read the first book in the Rivers of London series this month as well (yes, I know, this is my first within this series and before you all have a go at me, when have I EVER read a book series in order? This is very on me brand).

The reason I bought this is because back in October last year, at the Orion Book Blogger Event, the sampler of this audiobook was played and I went “Ok, I need to read this!” so I preordered it a few weeks later and thought “I’ll have plenty of time to catch up”. Oh, foolish book blogger, do you know nothing about yourself? You’ve been doing this for how long and still, you don’t know yourself? 

So, in this 7.5 novella of the Rivers of London series, we are no longer in London, but Germany. In Trier, to be exact. Famous for being Germany’s oldest city, its wine and now a dead body covered impossibly in fungal rot. Enter Tobias Winter, an investigator for the Abteilung KDA, the branch of the German Federal Criminal Police that handles magic and the supernatural. His aim is to get in, solve the case and get out, with little fuss, danger and, more importantly, paperwork. 

Together with a frightening enthusiastic local cop, Vanessa Sommer, the two link the first victim to a group of ordinary men who create a wine club to handle their midlife crisis. But is it possible this club has reawaken a bloody conflict from the previous century? Looks like the duo will have the unearth the secret, magical history of Trier that goes back two thousand years. That is… is history doesn’t kill them first…

Monday, 9 September 2019

The Apartment Awaits...


When I first heard of The Apartment, something about it chilled my blood and I knew I had to get it involved in my Murder Month!

The Apartment is an Audible original thriller, written by KL Slater (author of The Silent Ones, Closer, The Mistake and other creepy thriller), which is inspired by the terrifying "Little Albert" Experiment. I won't go to much into what the plot of this is, but let me be as vague as I can.

Freya is struck by tragedy. Losing her husband and her house, she needs to find somewhere to live quickly. So when she meets by chance Dr Marsden, she can't believe her luck. He offers her and her five year old daughter, Skye, a place to live. A small apartment in an exclusive part of London for a fraction of the market rent. When she moves into Adder House, she feels comfortable with the other residents.

But strange things start happening and no matter what Freya does, she can't help feeling that she and Skye are never truly alone... Freya might have escaped the problems of her past, but it looks like danger is in Adder House, and they are terrifying...

Now, I am thrilled to have a small guest post from KL Slater, talking a little about The Apartment and I hope to will creep you out to check it out!

I want to thank KL for writing this post - I know how busy she is! And I want to thank Anna at Midas PR for asking this would be up my street! Now, if you want to check KL out, visit her via her website - klslaterauthor.com - or via her Twitter at @KimLSlater. And if you want to check out The Apartment, you can visit Audible now!


Sunday, 8 September 2019

BBC National Short Story Award 2019 PRESS RELEASE



***Embargoed until Friday 6 September 2019, 1945hrs ***

14TH BBC NATIONAL SHORT STORY AWARD SHORTLIST INSPIRED BY #METOO, TRUMP AND DISCRIMINATION
Award-winning writer Lucy Caldwell joined by former bookseller Lynda Clark, charity worker Jacqueline Crooks, and new voices Tamsin Grey and Jo Lloyd to complete shortlist of writers exploring sexual politics, intolerance, community and immigration. 

www.bbc.co.uk/nssa #BBCNSSA #shortstories

Lucy Caldwell, multi-award-winning novelist, playwright and short story writer, has been shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University for the second time for ‘The Children’. Previously shortlisted in 2012 for ‘Escape Route’, one of her first ever short stories, Caldwell is joined on the 2019 shortlist by a wealth of emerging talent including University of Dundee Fellow and former bookseller Lynda Clark for ‘Ghillie’s Mum’; charity worker Jacqueline Crooks for ‘Silver Fish in the Midnight Sea’; civil servant Tamsin Grey for ‘My Beautiful Millennial’; and Welsh writer Jo Lloyd for ‘The Invisible’. The shortlist of five stories was announced this evening, Friday 6 September 2019, during BBC Radio 4 Front Row.

The shortlist is:
  • The Children’ by Lucy Caldwell
  • Ghillie’s Mum’ by Lynda Clark
  • Silver Fish in the Midnight Sea’ by Jacqueline Crooks
  • My Beautiful Millennial’ by Tamsin Grey
  • ‘The Invisible’ by Jo Lloyd

The need for empathy and human connection are key themes this year in a rich and varied shortlist that is set in both contemporary and fantastical worlds. Loneliness, activism, intolerance and social exclusion are all explored in stories that range from the comic contemporary to the mythic with inspiration coming from Brexit, Trump, #MeToo and experiences of immigration and isolation. 

Intimate and immersive, each short story shows the potent power of the form to reflect the political via the personal. From Lucy Caldwell’s ‘The Children’, a tale about motherhood and loss told through the deft interweaving of the true story of a 19th century child custody campaigner, a modern mother’s health scare and the child migrant crisis on the US/Mexican border as reported via Twitter; to Jacqueline Crook’s evocative and haunting ‘Silver Fish in the Midnight Sea’ exploring isolation, neglect and social exclusion set against memories of Jamaica and childhood summers; to the magical, fantastical world of Lynda Clark’s ‘Ghillies Mum’ where ‘otherness’ and intolerance are explored in the story of a family who are able to shape-shift into animals. 

Richly varied and tonally diverse, each story reflects the importance of community and human connection in an increasingly divided world. From the otherworldly, almost mythical Welsh village of Jo Lloyd’s ‘The Invisible,’ where a community is torn apart by one woman’s stories about the ‘invisible’ Ingram family, while in the contemporary metropolis of Tamsin Grey’s wonderfully comic ‘My Beautiful Millennial’, a young woman alone in London is desperate to make a connection. All five are beautifully told stories that conjure complete worlds for the reader and listener. 

Now celebrating its fourteenth year, the Award is one of the most prestigious for a single short story, with the winning writer receiving £15,000, and the four further shortlisted authors £600 each. Selected from over 900 entries (an increase of 15% on 2018), this year’s shortlist is the sixth all-female shortlist in the BBC National Short Story Award’s history. The winner will be announced live on BBC Radio 4 Front Row on Tuesday 1 October.

Nikki Bedi, TV and radio broadcaster and Chair of Judges for the BBC National Short Story Award 2019, says:
“One of the things I’ve discovered over a lifetime of meeting, interviewing and spending time with the most extraordinary creative minds in the world, is that they all have something in common: they seek to move us, to make us think and to transform us. I strongly believe all five of the shortlisted writers and stories we’ve chosen do all that and more. Judging them, however, has not been an easy process. To say it was a hard-fought contest is putting it mildly. We agonised over our decisions and disagreed vociferously at times, but on the whole, the discussion and debating was carried out in a civilised manner.” 
Nikki Bedi is joined on this year’s judging panel by novelist and writer of narrative non-fiction Richard Beard; short story writer, novelist and youngest author to be shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize Daisy Johnson; screenwriter, novelist and 2017 BBC National Short Story Award winner Cynan Jones; and returning judge Di Speirs, Books Editor at BBC Radio.

All five stories will be broadcast on Radio 4 on BBC Sounds in September and published in an anthology produced by Comma Press. The readers of this year’s stories include Line of Duty and Call the Midwife star Jessica Raine, who reads ‘The Children’, and Welsh actor Aimee-Ffion Edwards of Peaky Blinders and Skins fame, reading ‘The Invisible’. Tamara Lawrance, who read Candice Carty-Williams’ Queenie for BBC Sounds, reads ‘Silver Fish in the Midnight Sea’, and Katherine Press, whose television credits include Foyle’s War and the Golden Globe-nominated BBC series Dancing on the Edge, reads ‘My Beautiful Millennial’. Stephen Campbell Moore, best known for his role in the stage production of The History Boys completes the line-up with ‘Ghillie’s Mum’

Di Speirs, Editor of Books at BBC Radio and judge of the Award since its launch says:
Discovering new short story writers is one of the great joys of Radio 4. This year we see some prodigious new talent in the shortlist, stories from writers who have been quietly honing their craft and picking up prizes and who Radio 4 are now delighted to bring to a wider audience. All five stories, be they magical or comical, modern or historical, reflect both the range of the short story form, and the variety to be found weekly on Radio 4.”

The BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University was established to raise the profile of the short form and this year’s shortlist join distinguished alumni such as Zadie Smith, Lionel Shriver, Rose Tremain, William Trevor, Sarah Hall and Mark Haddon. As well as rewarding the most renowned short story writers, the Award has raised the profile of new writers including Ingrid Persaud, K J Orr, Julian Gough, Cynan Jones and Clare Wigfall.

James Gazzard, Director of the Institute of Continuing Education, Cambridge University, says: 
“As a leader in creative writing education, we, the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education’s Centre for Creative Writing, value short stories as a platform for learning and expression. This year’s shortlisted stories highlight the wealth of excellent writing in this genre and it’s particularly encouraging to see the overall growth in submissions and wide range of themes explored in the writing.”

Alongside the BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University, the BBC Student Critics’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University (SCA), now in its third year, will see 1618 year olds from around the UK reading, discussing and critiquing the five shortlisted NSSA stories in advance of the winner’s announcement. 

The BBC will also continue to celebrate young, emerging talent with the fifth BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University shortlist announced on Sunday 22 September. Open to 1418 year olds, the aim of this Award is to inspire and encourage the next generation of short story writers and is a cross-network collaboration between BBC Radio 4 and Radio 1. The winner of the BBC Young Writers’ Award will also be announced on 1 October on Front Row.

Key Dates: 
  • From Friday 6 September: Front Row will broadcast interviews with each of the 2019 shortlisted writers from 7:15pm on Radio 4 on BBC Sounds on Friday 6, Monday 9, Tuesday 10, Thursday 12 and Friday 13 September 2019. 
  • From Monday 9 September: Shortlisted stories will be broadcast on Radio 4 on BBC Sounds from Monday 9 to Friday 13 September 2019 from 3.30 to 4pm.
  • From Monday 9 September: An anthology – The BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University 2019 – introduced by Chair of Judges Nikki Bedi and published by Comma Press will be available at www.commapress.co.uk and all good bookshops priced £7.99.
  • From Monday 9September: Five newly commissioned short stories at R4 Book at Bedtime to mark the 2019 BBC National Short Story Award, beginning with a tale of food and love from 2018 winner Ingrid Persaud. The other writers are 2016 winner KJ Orr, former award judge Ben Markovits, Elizabeth Day and Ned Beauman, with actors including Bill Nighy, Miranda Raison best known for Spooks and Claire Skinner for Outnumbered.  
  • From Monday 9 September: A celebration of the Short Story - 25 classic short stories will be available on BBC Sounds to complete the collection of 100 showcasing some of the finest examples of the short story form www.bbc.co.uk/sounds 
  • From Monday 9 September: School groups of sixth-form students around the UK participating in the Student Critics’ Award will read and/or listen to the shortlisted stories and hold discussion groups supported by teaching resources. 
  • Sunday 22 September: The stories shortlisted for the BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University will be announced on Radio 1 on BBC Sounds on Sunday 22 September from 4 – 6pm.
  • Tuesday 1 October: The winner announcements of the BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University 2019 and the BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University will be broadcast live from the award ceremony on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row from 7.15pm. 
  • Wednesday 9 October: Shortlisted writers Lucy Caldwell, Tamsin Grey and Jacqueline Crooks will be in conversation with Alice Slater, host of Waterstones Gower Street's monthly short story salon and co-host of the podcast What Page Are You On? A book signing will follow the readings and discussion. 6.30pm, Waterstones, 19-20 Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T 1BJ https://www.waterstones.com/events/tcr-presents-a-celebration-of-the-bbc-national-short-story-award-2019/london-tottenham-court-road

The 2019 Shortlist:
  • The Children’ by Lucy Caldwell is a powerful story linking the past and present inspired by the true story of 19th century writer Caroline Norton and her battle to change Victorian child custody law after her abusive husband took her children from her. Caldwell deftly weaves together Caroline’s tragic story of personal pain turned to public good, alongside that of a mother researching Caroline’s story while battling her own thoughts of loss as she faces a possible breast cancer diagnosis, with the plight of mothers separated from their babies on the Mexican border in Trump’s America. Connected across the ages by the pain of a mother’s love, this moving story of loss links the personal with the political. 
  • Ghillie’s Mum’ by Lynda Clark is a magical realist allegory that plays with the notion of outsiders and ‘other-ness’ through the story of Ghillie and his mother’s ability to transform into a menagerie of animals. Inspired by a dream where a dumbo octopus, a baby orangutan and a baby elephant were giving a human baby a bath, this surreal, strange and darkly comic story won the regional Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 2018. 
  • Silver Fish in the Midnight Sea’ by Jacqueline Crooks was inspired by the author’s memories of childhood isolation, exclusion and poverty triggered by the sudden death of her sister. The story of three siblings forced to play in the garden while their night-shift working, single-parent mother sleeps, this rich, haunting and fantastical story explores the many faces of displacement – children locked in, and out; a mother parted from her Caribbean homeland; and a ghostly figure trapped between the worlds of the living and the dead.
  • My Beautiful Millennial’ by Tamsin Grey is set in contemporary London and is the comic story of Dido, a young woman alone and alienated in the metropolis who finds herself in a ‘relationship’ with an older man, through want of a human connection. Inspired by the tube route from city to country and the author’s own experience with a pigeon on the Bakerloo line, sexual politics and millennial angst are explored as Dido’s journey from central London to Amersham becomes transformative.
  • ‘The Invisible’ by Jo Lloyd is a distinctive and compellingly original story inspired by a real-life Welsh woman called Martha who claimed to be friends with an invisible family living in an invisible mansion. Set in a closely-knit community in Wales, the villagers are at turns intrigued, fearful and then jealous of the strangers and as the seasons unfold, the presence of ‘The Invisibles’ has a devastating effect on their lives.  A thought-provoking meditation on ‘seeing’ and ‘unseeing’ and society’s wilful blindness towards inequality and class division. 

About the shortlisted writers:
  • Lucy Caldwell is the author of three novels, several stage plays and radio dramas, two collections of short stories (Multitudes, 2016, and Intimacies, forthcoming in May 2020), and is the editor of the anthology Being Various: New Irish Short Stories (Faber, 2019). Awards include the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the George Devine Award, the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Imison Award, the Susan Smith Blackburn Award, the Irish Writers’ and Screenwriters’ Guild Award, the Commonwealth Writers’ Award (Canada & Europe), the Edge Hill University Short Story Prize Readers’ Choice Award, a Fiction Uncovered Award, a K. Blundell Trust Award and a Major Individual Artist Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2018. She was previously shortlisted for the BBC NSSA in 2012. Lucy Caldwell was born in Belfast and lives in London.
  • Lynda Clark is a former bookseller and videogame producer, has a PhD in interactive narrative and is currently a Research and Development Fellow in Narrative and Play at the University of Dundee. ‘Ghillie’s Mum’ won the Europe and Canada Commonwealth Short Story Prize, received a special mention in the Galley Beggars Press Short Story Prize 2016/17, and was published in Granta online. Another of her stories, ‘Grandma’s Feast Day’ was shortlisted for the 2017 Cambridge Short Story Prize and is forthcoming in a collection from The Short Story UK. Her debut novel, Beyond Kidding, will be published by Fairlight Books in October 2019. Lynda Clark was born in Nottingham and lives in Dundee, Scotland.
  • Jacqueline Crooks writes stories about Caribbean migration and the supernatural and supranational stories that sustain the diaspora. She was born in Jamaica in a rural village and came to London in 1963 with her mother when she was a baby – she is a Windrush Baby. She grew up in the migrant town of Southall between 1960 and 1980. She draws on these distinctive landscapes for her writing. She has Jamaican, Indian and German ancestry. Jacqueline is listed in the Breaking Ground list of the best British Writers of Colour, her collection of short stories, The Ice Migration, was longlisted in the 2019 Orwell Prize in the Political Fiction category and she has been shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize. She has a First Class degree in Social Policy from Roehampton University of Surrey and an MA in Creative & Life Writing from Goldsmiths University. She has worked in the community/charity sector for 25 years developing support services for socially excluded children and families and also runs writing workshops for young people. Jacqueline was born in Jamaica and lives in London.
  • The eldest of five sisters, Tamsin Grey spent her early childhood in England, Scotland and Zambia, her family settling in south London when she reached her teens. Tamsin’s varied career has included waitressing, speechwriting, yoga teaching, oral history interviewing, picking cucumbers, and selling advertising space on a calendar. Having always wanted to write novels, in 2012 she embarked on She’s Not There. In 2015 the third draft found its way onto the desk of literary agent Jo Unwin, who proceeded to sell it to Suzie Dooré at Borough Press. Tamsin currently works part time as a civil servant. She is using her oral history skills to interview colleagues across Whitehall about their experiences of working on EU Exit, in order to create a collective ‘story’ of this time. She is also working on a second novel, set at a music festival. Tamsin lives in south-east London.
  • Jo Lloyd’s short stories have appeared in The Best British Short Stories 2012 (Salt), Zoetrope: All-Story, Ploughshares, Southern Review, and elsewhere. Her short story, ‘The Earth, Thy Great Exchequer, Ready Lies’ featured in The O. Henry Prize Stories 2018, widely regarded as the most prestigious awards for short fiction in the US. Jo has also previously won an Asham Award, the Willesden Herald International Short Story Prize, and a McGinnis-Ritchie Award. She grew up in South Wales and has recently returned to live there.


  ABOUT THE AWARD AND PARTNERS:
  • The BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University (NSSA) aims to expand opportunities for British writers, readers and publishers of the short story and honour the UK’s finest exponents of the form. James Lasdun secured the inaugural Award in 2006 for ‘An Anxious Man’. In 2012, when the Award expanded internationally for one year, Miroslav Penkov was victorious for his story, ‘East of the West’. Last year, the Award was won by Ingrid Persaud for her story The Sweet Sop. K J Orr, Sarah Hall, Cynan Jones, Jonathan Buckley, Julian Gough, Clare WigfallKate Clanchy and David Constantine have also carried off the Award with authors shortlisted in previous years including Zadie Smith, Jackie KayHilary Mantel, William TrevorRose Tremain and Naomi Alderman.
  • The BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University is open to authors with a previous record of publication who are UK nationals or residents, aged 18 years or over. The story entered must either have been unpublished or be first published or scheduled for publication after 1st January of the previous year. The story should have a maximum of 8000 words and must have been written in English. The Award offers £15,000 for the winner and £600 to four shortlisted writers. For more information please visit www.bbc.co.uk/nssa
  • The BBC Student Critics' Award with First Story and Cambridge University (SCA) gives selected 1618 year olds around the UK the opportunity to participate in the BBC National Short Story Award: to read, listen to, discuss and critique the five NSSA stories shortlisted by the judges, and have their say. The students are supported with discussion guides, teaching resources and interactions with writers, judges, First Story patrons, and staff and students from Cambridge University Faculty of English, for an enriching experience that brings literature to life. 
  • BBC Radio 4 is the world’s biggest single commissioner of short stories, which attract more than a million listeners. Contemporary stories are broadcast every week, the majority of which are specially commissioned throughout the year. www.bbc.co.uk/radio4 
  • The mission of the University of Cambridge is to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence. To date, 107 affiliates of the University have won the Nobel Prize. Founded in 1209, the University comprises 31 autonomous Colleges, which admit undergraduates and provide small-group tuition, and 150 departments, faculties and institutions. The University sits at the heart of one of the world's largest technology clusters. The 'Cambridge Phenomenon' has created 1,500 hi-tech companies, 14 of them valued at over US$1 billion and two at over US$10 billion. Cambridge promotes the interface between academia and business and has a global reputation for innovation. The BBC National Short Story Award is being supported by the School of Arts and Humanities, Faculty of English, University Library and the new University of Cambridge Centre for Creative Writing which is part of the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education, which provides a range of part-time and courses to members of the public. www.cam.ac.uk 

  • First Story believes there is dignity and power in being able to tell your own story, and that writing can transform lives. We’re working towards a society that encourages and supports all young people to write creatively for pleasure and agency. We’re committed to bringing opportunities for creativity to students who may not otherwise have the chance. Our flagship programme places professional writers into secondary schools serving low-income communities, where they work intensively with students and teachers to foster confidence, creativity and writing ability. Through our core programme and extended activities, we expand young people’s horizons and raise aspirations. Participants gain vital skills that underpin academic attainment and support achieving potential. Find out more and get involved at www.firststory.org.uk